Welcome to Panfish

Part Sixteen


"Bullet Proof Idea"
By Randy Fratzke

A month or so back we had a discussion during one of my hosting bull sessions about leaders and tippets used for warm water fishing, specifically when we're fishing for Walleye, Northern Pike, and Musky. As I'm sure most of you know, these are the toothy species of the warm water lakes and streams. When hooked they have a tendency to literally bite through the line or roll over and use their sharp gill plates to simply slice off the line. In either case, it's pretty darn frustrating to get a good hook set on one of these critters only to loose it during the ensuing battle!

The discussion started out with someone asking what I used for leader and tippet material when I'm fishing for theses larger members of the pike family. I replied that I use a heavy leader material, usually 15 to 20 pound class, and a wire tippet finished with a swivel latch, which I build in various lengths and strengths. I admitted that the rig was a little heavy and a lot of time was spent straightening the wire tippet, but it definitely did not break or get cut by the fish! Then someone (and I apologize for not remembering who, and thank them for the idea) suggested using one of the new braided or Kevlar lines, usually reserved for bait casting reels. That way I'd have the flexibility of a real line and the strength and durability of the wire! DUH! Why hadn't I thought of that a few years ago since, as most of you know, I also fish using (God help me for admitting it on the site) "non-fly fishing methods" for catching natures water born creatures.

The not-so-new-anymore super lines were originally developed for hefting those honker bass lures through weeds and timber and pulling the fish out with them without losing the works to broken lines every time. Almost every line manufacturer out there has at least one version and many have several brands.

The lines are rated by diameter (as compared to "normal" monofilament) and strength (in pounds). Most will state something like "6lb. diameter, 20lb strength", although some have gotten "scientific" about it and started rating theirs in metric diameters. Basically, it boils down to a small diameter line with a big diameter strength. There are also a lot of different materials and techniques being used to manufacture these lines. Some are braided, some are extruded, some are woven, etc. It, as usual, comes down to personal choice and whether or not your rod and reel can handle them. Since we're only talking about using short lengths of the material for tippets for fly fishing that shouldn't be a problem here.

After rooting through my box of left over spools, (I occasionally repair rods, reels and load reels for anglers in the area....yes, I charge for the services) I found the tailings of four different kinds of "super lines". The first problem your going to run into is in cutting the stuff. Remember, it's not supposed to break and is extremely abrasion resistant. It takes a really sharp knife or, preferably, a scissors to cut it (I now have a finger nail clippers with dents in it to prove it). Another problem I ran into was that most of the lines have a tendency to fray once they are cut. This makes tying on a fly, even a large one, a little difficult. I resolved that problem by immediately dipping both ends of the cut section in super glue and hanging them somewhere safe to dry. The last problem I ran into has to do with the finish (or the material) that the lines are made out of. They are all very slippery and won't hold a conventional knot, no matter how tight you pull it. So, once again, super glue to the rescue.

I prerigged a set of my favorite pike flies on the different brands of super lines, using super glue on the knots to ensure that they wouldn't untie themselves, grabbed my 8wt rod and reel and headed for the river to do some testing. I tied each one onto the leader material and, as with the fly knots, super glued them and waited the minute or so for the glue to dry. After about an hour of testing, I decided that I liked the action of the Kevlar line best. It seemed to meet my qualifications for both castability and suppleness in the retrieve. You may find another brand you like better, if you do, let me know and I'll give it a try. To date, using the Kevlar tippets, I haven't lost a single pike due to broken or cut line. Broken and snapped hooks are another story....

So far, the only drawback that I've found is in changing flies. Obviously, you have to cut the fly off the line, retie a new one on, and reglue the knot. There is also the problem of residual line and glue left in the eye of the fly. This can be taken care of by using the "super glue antidote" or release that is now sold to dissolve super glues that get things stuck together that aren't supposed to be (like your fingers...) All of this tying and gluing and drying does take a little more time, but hey, your supposed to be relaxing anyway! Besides, this way you'll at least be able to see the fish that wacked your Bunny Tail Streamer instead of digging through your vest for another one!

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Some of you that go after those larger salmon or salt water species might want to try it. I'm not sure what effect salt water has on super glue so be sure and do some testing before going on that bonefish or sail fish hunt!

~ Randy Fratzke

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